Managing director, Joe Sidek Productions
Joe Sidek Productions’ head honcho is the visionary director behind one of the biggest festivals in the region’s arts and culture calendar
Joe Sidek is known for the successful annual George Town Festival, which turned into one of the biggest festivals in Malaysia and best-known arts and culture festivals in the region after its premiere in 2010.
Though artistically gifted, Joe’s career was not always arts-focused. Among other jobs, he’s helped run his father’s company, ventured into event management and the restaurant business. A proud George Town boy, in 2010, Joe jumped at the opportunity to organise a month-long festival to celebrate his hometown’s status as a Unesco Heritage site. Envisioning a festival that reflects the spirit of culture and rich heritage of George Town, he invited talented local and international artists to perform at the festival. Going against the norm at festivals, Joe insisted on setting no theme each year. Instead, he focused on quality acts, giving the festival an eclectic mix of performances each year until he stepped down in 2018.
His success as a festival director led him to organise the Butterworth Fringe Festival, the Rainforest Fringe Festival and a local edition of Tropfest, the world’s largest short-film festival, in Penang. He has also become a sought-after speaker on curating and organising art festivals and art development in general, both regionally and internationally.
Recently, Joe has been appointed chairman of the recently revived Penang Arts Council. He is also the chairman of Federation of Asian Cultural Promotion and part of the arts and culture panel at the Cultural Economy Development Agency (Cendana). He is currently working on a Peranakan Penang Festival and considering a potential Malay Festival that celebrates the Malay culture.
Did You Know?
During an interview for So This Is My Why podcast, Joe revealed that he and fashion designer John Galliano were classmates in art class, and had similar aspirations of going to Saint Martin’s School of Art (now known as Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design) in London. Although he was the top art student, Joe couldn’t get his father’s blessings but harbours no hard feelings today. Joe is also still involved in his family’s textile chemical factory business.